Li­brary staff protest over plan to cut jobs

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - OPINION -

UNION of­fi­cials have hit out at plans that could see around 40 li­brary staff lose their jobs in county coun­cil cut­backs.

Around 77 li­brary staff have al­ready been is­sued with let­ters telling them that their jobs are at risk.

The job losses, which could hit staff work­ing in a num­ber of li­braries, are part of a pack­age of mea­sures aimed at sav­ing the county coun­cil £580,000 in its bud­get for com­mu­ni­ties.

Com­mu­nity

A protest over the pro­posed cuts was staged by staff out­side Maid­stone’s County Hall last week.

Staff af­fected say li­brary users will get a poorer ser­vice if their jobs go, while vi­tal com­mu­nity schemes, such as read­ing clubs will end.

Coun­cil chiefs have de­nied the job cuts will lead to a poorer ser­vice and say they are will­ing to lis­ten to al­ter­na­tives be­fore push­ing ahead.

But David Lloyd, Uni­son branch sec­re­tary rep­re­sent­ing Kent County Coun­cil staff, said: “The ser­vices that th­ese li­brar­i­ans pro­vide go be­yond what is done in li­braries.

“They per­form vi­tal work out in the com­mu­nity. It is mis­lead­ing to say they are not on the front­line.”

The threat­ened job losses are de­mor­al­is­ing for staff who are con­cerned they might rep­re­sent “the thin end of the wedge,” he added.

Cllr Mike Hill (Con), KCC’s cabi­net mem­ber for com­mu­ni­ties, in­sisted the li­brary ser­vice would not be af­fected. “By the time we have worked through the ef­fi­ciency mea­sures across the di­rec­torate as a whole, we will not have a poorer ser­vice.”

He had of­fered to meet per­son­ally with union rep­re­sen­ta­tives for face to face talks and KCC is will­ing to lis­ten to al­ter­na­tives, he added.

The county coun­cil says around 190 jobs could be lost across dif­fer­ent de­part­ments as a re­sult of an across-the-board £30mil­lion cost-cut­ting pack­age.

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